I ALSO FIGHT WINDMILLS
a literary photobook by Ania Ready
300 signed and numbered books, VIKA Books, 2023, ISBN: 9780957025592
In a unique form of a ‘book within a book’, this publication offers a rare opportunity to experience a visual story of unfulfilled creative passion, disillusionment and mental instability alongside literary texts exploring these themes.
'I Also Fight Windmills' is a literary photobook by the Polish-British artist Ania Ready. It visually interprets the work of the modernist, trilingual and largely forgotten author of Polish origin Sophie Gaudier-Brzeska (1872-1925; she died in a mental asylum in the UK).
Ania Ready has reimagined Gaudier-Brzeska’s highly autobiographical story of a migrant woman from Eastern Europe who travelled west to Paris, New York and London to find employment, and above all to fulfil her ambition of becoming a writer. The rigid rules of the old societal order, the lack of opportunities for women, poverty and disappointment led to her mental instability. The heaviest blow came with the loss of her partner – the modernist French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska – in the First World War soon after she had sent him a rather mean-spirited letter.
By combining Ania Ready’s photography and Sophie Gaudier-Brzeska’s writing, 'I Also Fight Windmills' explores the themes of displacement, creativity, loneliness, a disempowering sense of guilt, lack of emotional support and social exclusion. The book investigates the psychological aspects of frustration and entrapment in a restrictive social role, and sensitively depicts mental disturbance.
'I Also Fight Windmills' contains a book within a book, with literary texts presented separately from the visual story on smaller, yellow pages to resemble Sophie Gaudier-Brzeska’s archive and to fit with the Polish saying ‘to have yellow papers’, meaning ‘to have been admitted to a psychiatric institution’.
Ania Ready spent four years reading the writer’s manuscripts and travelling to rural Poland, Cracow, Lviv, Paris, New York, London, and Wotton-under-Edge to piece together Gaudier-Brzeska’s life. The findings of this research are captured in the biographical essay with which the book ends.
'I Also Fight Windmills' has been featured at: the FORMAT Photography Festival, Oxford Photo Festival, the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, Pushkin House in London, Tsundoku Art Book Fair in Dublin, Books on Photography book fair in Bristol, BOUND bookfair in Manchester, Book and Zine Fair in Cambridge. It is also part of the touring Women and the Photobook Pop-up Library organized in collaboration with 10x10 books.
This book was created with consideration for the environment - it was printed locally by Taylor Brothers in Bristol on recycled and carbon balanced papers supported by the World Land Trust, bound with a cloth using yarn derived from the plastic floating in the ocean.
Selected praise for 'I Also Fight Windmills':
The visual appeal is truly exceptional. The book cleverly includes a separate section for the literary texts, presented on smaller, yellow pages resembling Sophie's uncatalogued archive. The typography reflects the writer's mental states, with words even appearing upside down and on the edges of the paper. The larger, thicker pages showcase Ania's evocative photographs, skilfully portraying the dramatic changes in the mental states of the female protagonist. By purchasing this book, you are not only acquiring a remarkable piece of art, but also giving voice to many of the forgotten or silenced female creatives of the past. Natasha Caruana, artist
Such an amazing set of images combined with arresting text! David Tolley, photographer, tutor at Ruskin College of Fine Arts, Oxford
A beautiful book! I love the format, layout and how text and image go side by side. Dr. Ileana L. Selejan, lecturer in Art History, Culture and Society at University of Edinburgh
Psychologically intriguing, mystical, suggestive and enigmatic work Dr Anna Scarna, psychologist and researcher
'I Also Fight Windmills' is a magical literary photobook combining Ania’s photographs with English translations of modernist Polish author Sophie Gaudier-Brzeska Suzy Joinson, writer and reader in creative writing at the University of Chichester
Haunting and beautiful, a wonderful collection of images. They will stay with me Karen Brickley, poet
A beautiful and unusual book! The different elements all fit together perfectly. Robert Chandler, British poet and literary translator
A gorgeous book! Laura Noble, artist, curator
PURCHASE THE BOOK HERE (£50; signed and numbered)
size: 17.5 cm x 22.7 cm | Format: hardback foil-blocked, tipped-in, 160 pges | Designer: Victoria Forrest
The book is also available also at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge, Pushkin House in London, The Library Project in Dublin, Photobook Café London, Photobook Store, UNITOM in Manchester and Village Books in Manchester.
I Also Fight Windmills is in the following collections: Bodleian Library (rare books), British Library, Women and the Photobook, Lodz Film Institute, Poland, Martin Parr Foundation Library, Photobook Café London, Aperture Library NYC, Arles Photobook Library, Swerve Magazine Art Book collection Ireland. It’s also been acquired by private collectors in the UK, Ireland, USA, Poland and New Zealand.
Articles about 'I Also Fight Windmills':
Creative Transformations by Marianna Leszczyk, University of Oxford
Recovering a forgotten archive by Etain O'Carroll, Photo Oxford
A thought-provoking literary photobook - a review by Natasha Caruana